Monday, 29 August 2011
In 2011 R&B is about to get real grown.
By Tim David Harvey
Rhythm and blues music is all about heart, devotion and soul. It's all about 'Sex, Love & Pain', 'The Life' and powerful music like '2000 Watts'. It isn't about, auto-tunes, disrespecting women or basic things like clubbing and drinking. It's about the finer things in life. It's about those intimate moments with that special person. It's all about love. It's about partnership.
With the group TGT, you have the perfect partnership. R&B's big three like the Miami Heat in basketball. Instead of LeBron James, Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh however we have Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank, three grown men, moving units and females hearts. Three of the realest singer/songwriters and even producers of their generation. Sure label pains have made the birth of this supergroups debut more than overdue, but that hasn't stopped these hard workers grind. From Slim Thug features to remixes and unreleased gems these solo acts have kept it moving and as for their own projects, it only gets better.
Tank dropped his latest, greatest, 'Now Or Never' just this last fall. While 'Elgin' came out around Valentines. In-between films, Tyrese isn't being left out either as his 'Open Invitation' will make it an open season for classic R&B this year on the historic 11/01/11. 2011 is about to button up, shape up and look real grown. So if your sick of all this watered down, throwaway pop, R&B that dominates the charts, take three of these and call the request line in the morning.
T is for Tank. Once underrated, now celebrated like his big collabo with Drake. From penning and producing hits from everyone from Marques Houston to Jamie Foxx, it was about time that this unselfish talent was given the Hollywood treatment. He really is a problem...in a good way. When 'Sex, Love & Pain' was released the industry was blessed with an R&B album that covered every aspect from 'I Love You' to 'I Hate You'. Tank really brought a battalion of hits. He should have got the Grammy. He heated up with 'Coldest' and married himself to pushing the concept envelope with his incredible 'Wedding Song'. If R&B was missing a true voice, dun, dun, dah, it arrived. The man with the superman physique, became an R&B hero to marvel at.
Tank followed his classic with another great album to close out last year. 'Now or Never' is still heating up the R&B and mainstream charts like it's single 'Emergency'. Once again Durrell Babbs resuscitated R&B from it's state of alert with an album to save those late night playlists. Now the acclaim comes as Tank and R&B are far away from situation critical. Writing, singing and producing, Tank is involved in the whole process of his work. Now with that degree of study to music, how could you deny and not dedicate your time to this guy? Now the songs keep coming and Tank's phone keeps ringing. He went for his with a 'Now & Never' outlook and this is his moment. Don't forget it.
G is for Ginuwine. The genuine article when it comes to R&B singers. He's a legend. He brought the dancing before Ne-Yo, before Chris Brown, before even Usher. FACT! A superfriend years before LeBron took his talents to South Beach. With his family of Missy Elliott, Timbaland, the legendary Static Major (R.I.P.) and Aaliyah (Rest in peace and happy birthday baby girl), G made some of urban music's most classic and timeless records. Music hasn't been the same since. Sorry Nelly Furtado but 'Pony' is Timbo's most original, freshest song, still to this day and it's all G. Sorry Justin but nothing sounds as good as 'Tha Bachelor'. Even after G has given '100%' and so many classic L.P's, as 'The Senior' in the game he still remains one of the most underrated talents in music.
One thing that is certain, is that he is one of the best. Sure the Timbaland collaborations may be getting as slimmer as the producer himself these days (but who knows what will come over the next few 'Thursdays') but Elgin Lumpkin's style and substance have evolved and matured even more over his career. Just check out the tracks 'Love You More' or 'I'm Still In Love' to see his devotion. Ever since 'The Senior', Ginuwine has gone 'Back To The Basics' and showed every true, real aspect of 'A Man's Thoughts' with countless quality numbers over the last decade. G has continued his run of hits and rich, deep album tracks, getting real personal on Valentines Day with 'Elgin'. Elgin Baylor went all classic like his Los Angeles Laker namesake with the perfect soundtrack for the most devoted holiday of the year, provide a disc full of 21 and older, love songs like the 'Heaven' sent first single or the coldest cut 'Frozen' and the single 'Break' which brought the whole album together. 'Elgin' is another classic in the G man's catalogue.
T is for Tyrese. Ever since the kid with the big smile and an even bigger voice stepped on the bus and sang about a soft drink the hard work and thirst for success hasn't stopped. From his self-titled debut to his big hit movie with Snoop Dogg, this 'Baby Boy' has really grown. He's a bonafide actor and singer whether with his 'Four Brothers' or the other two letters that make his music group. Ty really advanced far with 'I Wanna Go There', and the smash hits, 'How You Gonna Act Like That' and 'You Don't Give A Damn About Me' that opened the album. Still it was the double disc, rap and R&B set 'Alter Ego' which really displayed this mans multiple talents. With his rap personality Black-Ty, Tyrese moulded himself into a legit rapper and confirmed himself as a real triple threat. As for the R&B, Black-Ty still got down, making some of his best music with 'Come Back To Me Shawty', 'Gotta Get You' and the standout single, 'One'.
Even Lady Gaga and Beyonce can't stop this man. Pick up the telephone and go tell somebody about this guys inspirational characters on Twitter and his great book, 'How To Get Out Of Your Own Way' touching millions. Tyrese is crafting himself another career as an incredible motivational speaker. Still he hasn't forgot about music, even in-between his further, great support of the awesome 'Fast & Furious' and 'Transformer' franchises. Between chrome and robotics you've seen Mr. Gibson line the silver screen this Summer but a new albums coming two. Thanks to his fans tweets you'll receive an 'Open Invitation' to what Ty's got in store from the studio. If his latest work is anything to go by, it's going to look 'Too Easy', but be one hell of a smash. Just ask Ludacris. "This is an open invitation to the rest of your lives". It's going to be fast, furious and it's going to transform the game.
It's no coincidence that these three men joined forces a couple years back. Thanks to their versatile and focused talents they are on a real hot streak in their own respective works. As if their careers weren't great enough already, coming off their greatest albums the big three are about to add more perfect projects to the resume. All that's left now is for their record companies to get it together and release this group out of music, politics purgatory, because with the legend Ginuwine, Hollywood's Tyrese and music's master Tank, TGT have every ingredient of real R&B. Now isn't that a recipe for success? Time to say bye, bye to fast food R&B and rewind and take it back to some classic talent. Get your tape decks ready and let 'em play.
Saturday, 27 August 2011
A woman more than one in a million.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Dearest Aaliyah, it's too hard to believe that it's been a decade since the angel in you was taken from us. Baby girl (or Li, Li too your closest) you did us all proud from your family to your fans. You don't know what you do to us, no one will ever take your place. The love you gave could never be replaced as you spent your life and shared your world with us. Don't you understand? When your heart spoke you turned us inside out, your all we need, no one else, your personality and everything you did made us love everything about you. Your smile, your style was so fly we couldn't deny, we digged you. You made us believe. You gave us all a real good feeling. It's been said before and will be said again, but let's tell it like it is you truly where one in a million, 'More Than A Woman'.
As a young princess you reigned supreme, then you shared the throne with Mary J. Blige as the queen of R&B. Only Alicia Keys could come close now. With all due, deserved respect Beyonce and Rihanna can't touch you, no one can. To find any competition, they would have to dig deeper to women like Erykah Badu or Jill Scott, or go back as fas as ladies named Tammi or Diana. You where and are the very best. Your music lives on, never gone, but we still miss you and remember to this day. 'Are You Feelin' Me'? You where that somebody. I 'Dont Know What To Tell You', a young woman ruled the charts and the sound like no one else. You brought the best out of everyone from Tommy Hillfiger to Nas ('You Won't See Me Tonight'). A beautiful woman, an angelic dancer with street savvy and effortless cool. Who could forget? The 'Back & Forth' beginning's with R. Kelly back when you represented the 'Old School' and a 'Young Nation', we where under your groove. Rocking the Kangol and shades at 15, making a lasting declaration that 'Age Aint Nothing But A Number'. Your spirit still echo's on in the charts today as you let us know through Drake samples that 'At Your Best' your 'Unforgettable'. You are love.
Then came the 'One In A Million' smash album and the superfriend days. These where some real heroes to marvel at. With technically tight and prolifically proficient producer Timbaland manning the boards and creating a new futuristic sound for the modern day, mainstream music and the urban sound was revolutionised. Even other genres that didn't mess with R&B wanted to crossover, as you and Timbo conducted a new music school. Tim, along with his promising partner in rhyme Magoo, his sensational younger brother Sebastian, the talented Tweet and of course the majestic, magnificent Missy Elliott, the genuine greatness of Ginuwine and the lyrical genius and sublime craft of Static Major (Rest in Peace, we miss you and have something for you too) we where down with the clique. Billboard dominance was guaranteed with this dynasty, but no star shone as bright as you.
With the 'Beats 4 Da Streets' you showed us you where 'Hot Like Fire'. 'A Girl Like You' gave us hit after hit with the title track lying on the bonnet with Timbaland in the driving seat and Missy riding passenger. Now 'Those Were The Days'. 'If Your Girl Only Knew' was a tell-all classic and mama knows this has inspired everyone, just ask Rahzel. You channelled another soul great with the Marvin marvel 'Got To Give It Up' alongside the slickest of all Rick's, while your '4 Page Letter' moved us to tears. You sealed a classic album with a kiss as you 'Came To Give Love' to the one you gave your heart to.
Then on your self-titled definitive album you really hit big sadly right when you where taken from us. 'Aaliyah' was all you and you stormed the charts with a real big three in 'Rock The Boat', 'More Than A Woman' and 'Try Again'. Huge, classic, timeless records that have set the tone and tempo for R&B records and artists for this decade and next generation and the rest to come. Not to forget your massive Timbaland collabo 'We Need A Resolution', your 'Loose Raps' with the seriously talented Static, your 'I Can Be' honesty, the 'Extra Smooth' funk or your beautiful ballads. 'I Care For You' was the realest devotion, 'Never No More' will last forever and your emotional spirit and resilience on 'I Refuse' could not be dragged away by wild horses. From Rolling Stone to the Grammy's you made it.
It wasn't just music and the charts you ruled, the box-office and movie scripts came pouring in through your already fan-letter full mailbox. 'Queen Of The Damned' saw you take the silver screen limelight, while you would have ruled 'The Matrix' sequels and taken the creative, envelope tearing franchise out this world and its realm. Still it was your duet with amazingly talented Asian icon Jet Li in the modern love story/action flick 'Romeo Must Die'. With two leading acts that in a Hollywood movie that weren't white you really broke down cultural barriers and from the movies scenes to the dancing with Li in the triumphant 'Try Again' video your chemistry was set with your collective charisma and genuine charm. You looked as incredible and appealing on screen as Jet's martial arts and just like Li you where more than the physical. With deeper, expressed emotion you showed us you could act too, and act well. Another star was born in another field. You where before your time and its tragic you where taken in your prime. You where running, you where soaring. Nobody could stop you. You where going to be bigger than you where in your life and death, but tragedy cut destiny cruelly short.
You also had a profound effect on another co-star; rapper DMX who you duetted with on the soundtracks cool, crossover collabo; 'Come Back In One Piece'. An effect so huge that a sobering statement from D began your 'Miss You' tribute video as he said "dearest, sweet Aaliyah, I have trouble accepting the fact that your gone, so I wont". We still don't as we watch this video today and everyone from Missy and Tweet to Toni Braxton and Jamie Foxx showed love. Still, above all X's tears hit home. You where really gone. Speaking of top rappers Jay-Z also took your moving 'Miss You' beat and gave an instrumental tribute to you, saying "All the estrogen's the darker texture you are the more intellectual/You are so professional our little purple star/Too good for earth you are (I miss you)". From Dame Dash to Diddy, the industry, music and the whole world beyond, you where and will always be loved. We don't need ten years or an awful anniversary to show you that we will always love and miss you. Thank you for the music and take good care. Rest peacefully. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Even after Frusciante's departure it only gets hotter for the Chilli's.
It's hard to believe that it's been half a decade since the Red Hot Chilli Peppers dealt us a double disc of dominance with the sweet, anthemic 'Stadium Arcadium' epic. It's also hard to believe these guys are pushing 50 like Eminem in 2001. It's even harder to believe, or accept that guitar hero John Frusciante has left the Los Angeles band (we expect some more sublime solo sets Johnny boy). Even though the legend has left the band before (Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction joined them for 'One Hot Minute') it still seems strange, especially after the renaissance the band redeemed after their reunion (see the classic 'Californication' and brilliant 'By The Way'). Still as one door closes, a Josh Kinghoffer one opens as the band return to tell their fans, 'I'm With You'. Now it's clear from the Damien Hirst, white, fly, pill-popping cover that this is going to be a clinical piece, open to interpretation. Now here's ours...
The Peppers and long-time production partner Rick Rubin (time for some more 'Mother's Milk' magic out in Malibu) lament life and death behind some peppered African influences. The Los Angeles band come back harder and grittier with 'Monarchy of Roses' which is a guns blazing track for rock's royalty. It's clear from the first drum roll, guitar riff and Keidis lyric that their back and welcome too. This sound and notion is continued with the vintage RHCP titled, 'Factory of Faith' and the emotive 'Brendan's Death Son', which harks back to the depths of Keidis singing about all his friends on 'One Hot Minute' as the group pay tribute to the late autobiographer Brendan Mullen (rest peacefully).
The beautiful, emotive 'Ethiopia' features vintage Keidis vocals for some more classic Chilli's. Then after the birth of this album comes 'Annie Wants a Baby', by this point its safe to say Kinghoffer is part of the Red Hot family. On the clap happy, foot-tapping 'Look Around' the band explore their musical space and although they don't sound as creative without Frusciante (this is a guy who was inspired by the Wu Tang Clan and Brandy of all people for the last album) they sure sound as solid as ever. The texture and sound is smooth for this collective as they feel it back in the groove.
The Beatles titled esque 'The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie' was the single that started the buzz of this album, but let down some. Still despite critics deflation's this track is as high as helium, funky, lyrical, bass beautiful (thank you Flea) and driven by a trademark cool and classy chorus by Anthony, all while Kinghoffer formally introduces himself on guitar. Just like the album and the development and new direction of this band, this song grows on you.
'Did I Let You Know' is another great don't you know? While 'Goodbye Hooray' is an upbeat 'au revoir' as Keidis sings "See ya around, I'll see ya around" with 'joie de vivre'. The good times keep rolling on 'Happiness Loves Company' as Chad Smith beats the joy out of his drums while Keidis shouts out "young lovers on the streets of L.A." who "keep it pumping". On this track its clear the band are home. Then when they hit the 'Police Station' for some L.A. times story-telling (the race riots and police response to hip-hop culture are challenged here) they leave genre prison by rolling up their cuffs on a deep, dark track that arrests the senses and consciences of their Californian city.
'Even You Brutus?' explores new territory for the band but does not betray their trademark, tried and tested and creatively diverse sound, while 'Meet Me at the Corner' should have everyone coming around. Even those with their arms folded will begin to turn the music up and tune into a band that still sounds so good. The album comes to a close with the last waltz of 'Dance, Dance, Dance' (unless you have the bonus of living in Japan) and the band conclude a cool, cohesive set with some class and charm and awe-inspiring atmosphere. What else from a band full of character?
Sure without the one of a kind Frusciante it's clear unfortunately that this band have lost some magic, but these old dogs are still well bred to learn some new tricks. The chemistry is still set like a science lesson as this band still take the rest of rock music to school. This album isn't good, it's great, going beyond expectations and critics judgement. 'I'm With You' is a declaration that will leave those fans with doubts saying the same thing in return. Are you still down? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
'I'm With You' is the new Red Hot Chilli Pepper album out this week with their new beginning and new guitarist following the departure of their former axeman, but this isn't the first time they've had to fair without John Frusciante. Jane's Addiction legend Dave Naverro joined them for 'One Hot Minute', the bands sixth studio album, which came in the mid-nighties, a decade bookended by two complete, classic Frusciante full albums (91's 'Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic' and 99's 'Californication'). This Rick Rubin produced album was raw and real, just check the devotion of 'All My Friends' and the depth of 'Tearjerker'. Even Flea got down on it on the acoustic 'Pea'. The James Brown inspired mother funkers still kept their groove like Stella despite the departure of their dear John. Sure this album wasn't a classic and lacked some magic like their brilliant Lakers tribute 'Salute To Kareem' but still it was an album greater than most. The singles 'Warped', 'Coffee Shop' and 'Shallow By Thy Name' helped it fly, but the awesome 'Aeroplane' really took them higher. Naverro's brief but beautiful membership was a badge of success and is a good sign for this album. If anyone can survive the leaving of the greatest guitarist in the world it the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the greatest band in the world. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
The playlist of our favourite songs this week. 'Side A' features some latest cuts, while the classics make the 'B Side'.
TYRESE Feat LUDACRIS-TOO EASY: An 'Open Invitation' to his new album. Tyrese and his 'Fast Five' co-star furiously fuel a track that really does seem effortlessly excellent.
KANYE WEST & JAY-Z Feat BEYONCE-LIFT OFF: Yet another classic that ensured 'Watch The Throne' would be the album to take off and take over.
LIL' WAYNE-SHE WILL: 'The Carter IV' is about to drop and it's tracks like this that ensure it's going to be hot.
RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS-MONARCHY OF ROSES: Next week can't come soon enough last weeks 24 hour stream of 'I'm With You' wasn't enough. We need this album now.
LENNY KRAVITY-BLACK & WHITE AMERICA: The funky title track off the funky latest from old glory's best rock/soul man.
RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS-AEROPLANE: The last time these guys were Frusciante-less they flew with Jane's Addiction's Dave Naverro and this.
THE GAME Feat COMMON-ANGEL: This year marks the return of these two rappers but it's unheralded classics like this that prove they never left.
LL COOL J-MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT: Don't call it a comeback, he's been here for years.
R. KELLY-JUST LIKE THAT: Now we're not talking about the same-named classic off his latest album, but still just like that and just like this, this 'Twelve Play 2' joint has been on replay all week.
WHITNEY HOUSTON-MY LOVE: Say what you want, not much tops this dedication. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
4 stars as 'Tha Carter' goes fourth.
It's here. Lil' Wayne, aka 'Tha Carter' has released what everyone's been waiting for in the form of the fourth installment of his classic series following the night of the 2011 'American Music Awards' on August 29th, breaking ground and history. In 2008 the classic 'Tha Carter III' struck platinum three times over, so maybe four strikes or more will be made from 'Tha Carter IV', which follows many memorable mixtapes (most recently notable, 'Sorry 4 Tha Wait') and the real 'Rebirth' and out of this world 'I Am Not A Human Being Album'.
If you thought the '3Peat' beginning of his last album was a big opener then check out how Weezy F. Baby goes for his fourth ring on the 'intro' (which continues a classic beat throughout the 'interludes' and 'outro') and 'Blunt Blowin' as he smokes the competition. Then on 'Megaman' Wayne gets real big and hard over perfect production from the songs namesake. The single '6 Foot, 7 Foot' really takes things higher as this monster track shows more change coming Young Money's way in the form of the machine-gun flow of Corey Gunz. Then the man with 'No Ceilings' hits the roof with 'Nightmares of the Bottom', which he unleashed during his 'Unplugged' session. With lyrics like "Sleepin’ at the top, nightmares of the bottom/Everybody wanna be fly til you swat ‘em/But who am I to talk? I ain’t s******’ roses/We in in the same picture but we all got different poses/I’m looking in my rear view, I see the world in it" what else can you do but give the man the throne that Jay-Z and Kanye have been watching?
Speaking of collaborative albums, Weezy and his favourite Young Money son Drake are set to release one and if the latest single 'She Will' is anything to go by it's going to be huge, especially with Drake on sizzling, drizzling form. That long awaited, highly anticipated T-Wayne album also sounds promising with the T-Pain collaboration 'How To Hate'. You've got to love it. Now usually 'interludes' on rap albums are a worthy of a skip but not when it comes to Wayne and when it comes with Andre 3000. These rap outcasts are welcome here. The street single 'John' with Rick Ross is another great collaboration by the two hottest rappers in the game who have shared countless verses on wax.
Then things get real lyrical on 'Abortion' and then 'So Special' with John Legend on a heaven sent, different but 'G.O.O.D.' music collaboration. This uplifting jam really is something special. The acoustic, envelope twanging 'How To Love' is already huge and the single signifies yet another rebirth for the guitar hero. The inauguration of 'President Carter' really elects the best of Wayne's potential as he gets presidential and premier with Jimmy. Things get real great with 'It's Good' as the best rapper alive brings Drake back with lyrical legend Jadakiss to lock it down before the 'Outro', which brings more legends in the form of Nas, Busta Rhymes (who goes back hard to the 'sick' old days), Shyne (great to hear from him again) and Bun B for some great lyrics to go.
As this rapper and this album get deluxe Wanye reflects with 'I Like The View' and the magnificent 'Mirror' with lyrical legend Bruno Mars that are more than just a bonus. Then after taking a last 'Two Shots' the rapper finishes up another great album that goes down smooth. This album is missing nothing-even if some Stan like fans wanted the homage 'Dear Anne' to make the cut-this CD's got everything. It's another classic that may not be as diverse as the third 'Carter', but more consistent and ultimately on par. Expect the hardest working rappers latest long album to keep playing and playing until the fans demand the fifth installment of this legendary series of albums that are becoming as valuable a franchise as the Cash Money Millionaires themselves. Baby, you've got to love it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
The Game really has begun again.
The Game really has changed and come a long way in hip-hop since his 'Documentary' debut. The 'Doctor's Advocate' has had a few turbulent years after his G-Unit and 'Aftermath' departure but his music hasn't suffered as a result. Just listen to the air space of 'LAX' or his countless multitudes of mixtapes for reference. Now in 2011 The Game is back playing with the 'Aftermath' franchise and that means that Dr. Dre's protegee is back indeed with the good doctor. Still more ups and downs and waiting has occurred, but now the highly anticipated and eagerly awaited 'The R.E.D. Album' has hit shelves ready to colour the world of hip-hop.
As Game sees red, Dre is back on the boards and the interludes telling Game's story as his 'Documentary' starts back up and airs again. The Los Angeles rapper opens proceedings with the deep, dynamic track 'The City' featuring Kendrick Lamar which really brings the cool and the atmosphere out of this California city and it's rap son's latest. Then Game takes a 'Drug Test' with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre and you know with these names that it's all going to come out positive. On 'Martians vs. Goblins' the rapper goes out this world and crazy with Lil' Wayne and Tyler The Creator two lyrical creatures.
Lil' Wayne joins Chuck Taylor for the Cool & Dre produced single 'Red Nation' as the pair lace up their lyrical genius they really get cool on this scarlet strong rally cry. As Weezy leads the chorus Game reinforces his love for his mentor Dre saying "before I turn on him, I'll kill Satan"! Then the rapper invest in more Young Money in the form of top rapper Drake for the great 'Good Girls Go Bad'. Then on the hard-hitting 'Ricky' this boy from the hood gets cinematic. Expect more movie worthy moments on 'The Good, The Bad, The Ugly', where the wild west leader shows he has more lyrical bullets in his gun.
Then on 'Heavy Artillery' Game brings an artillery of big rappers literally with Rick Ross and Beanie Siegel. Than super-charged, energy rapper Young Jeezy assists on 'Paramedics' to breathe new life into the track. Game then heads south to put the 'Speakers On Blast' with E-40 and Outkast Big Boi and what comes from this journey is a record that will sound so good in your car...just make sure your tops down. Following this the tough Compton rapper softens up for the radio with some real, gutter R&B. 'Hello' with Lloyd is a welcome number, while 'All The Way Gone' with Mario and Wale really takes things further. Still however it's 'Pot Of Gold' with Chris Brown that helps find this star another platinum worthy single.
Then Game finishes up strong with 'All I Know', 'Born In The Trap' and the awake state of, 'California Dream'. Still it's his pop crossover 'Mama Knows' with Canadian superstar Nelly Furtado that really takes things further then California and rap music. It's tracks like this that show the diversity of this 20 track long, dynamic album that's set to dominate the rap sheets for all the right reasons. Back in the scope of 'Interscope' this rapper is seeing more then red, he's seeing the bright future in hip-hop that he's created himself. The aftermath is going to be huge. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Taking us back to great music with no grey areas.
It doesn't seem like more than three years ago that Lenny Kravitz released his latest classic 'It's Time For A Love Revolution' back in 2008 that took it back to the vintage, best 'Let Love Rule' days. Still now in 2011 Lenny takes it back even further with his latest release 'Black & White America'. This ninth album is yet another wonder from one of the most versatile, underrated talents in rock music.
The album opens up with the title track that really gives us a funky history lesson of Kravitz's old sound. Than on 'Come On & Get It', Lenny starts a distorted vocal, rally-cry charge which harks back to some of his biggest hits like 'Fly Away' and 'American Woman'. This single, previously used on an NBA commercial is truly where amazing happens. The track 'In The Black' is yet again vintage Kravitz but when the album streams into the track 'Liquid Jesus', Lenny takes it higher with sounds that praises the heart of soul.
'Rock Star City Life' is an up-tempo, feel-good number which is just right for a party or celebrating a perfect Summer's day this August, while 'Boongie Drop' is different but still game changing as Kravitz yet again collaborates with hip-hop friend Jay-Z following their previous work together ( including 'Storm' off Lenny's 'Baptism' and 'Guns & Roses' from Jay-Z's 'The Blueprint 2'). The single 'Stand' really does help this album plant it's feet as it is a get up and proud pop record, ready-made for the charts.
The out of this world 'Superlove' really takes you away with it's funky, 70's feel, while the rocking love dedication 'Everything' really has it all. the love lament 'I Can’t Be Without You' follows and is one of the deepest devotions the singer has rocked. After this Kravitz is 'Looking Back On Love' on an introspective track that completes this trilogy of love songs perfectly.
Then the rock star shows us even more and just how good things can get with 'Life Ain’t Ever Been Better Than It Is Now', just try not to feel positive after this track. Than the piano driven 'The Faith of a Child' is a pronouncement of peace as beautiful as his daughter Zoe. Things get even brighter still on the enlightening, Swizz Beatz produced 'Sunflower', were Kravitz links up with top Toronto M.C. Drake and shows that he's with more hip-hop than just Jay-Z. Plus just like the other track on this album, this genre, envelope pushing song doesn't effect the rock stars musical credibility, in fact it furthers it.
This deep, diverse set concludes with the inspiring, influential 'Dream' and the forward thinking 'Push'. Also on the special edition of this album is good for the track 'War' and an awesome acoustic version of 'Black & White America'. All in all this album is classic and vintage classic from the artwork showing the singer as a child, to the lyrical and instrumental depth of every song on the record. This funky, fantastic album that was meant to be released before 2004's brilliant 'Baptism' is long overdue. Still this eagerly anticipated album is really worth the wait in gold (expect platinum too) as it still stands the test of time just like the words and symbols painted on a young Kravitz's face on the cover, 'Peace'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 19 August 2011
Dust through your parents old vinyl's and between the dodgy choices and eras your bound to find some classics. Classics like sensational soul legend Anita Baker's ravishing, 'Rapture'. This album really draws you in with it's sweet, sensual warmth. Right from the beautiful artwork to the eight concise tracks, perfect for a romantic night in or a relaxed, laid back night-time drive. From the sugary smash single, 'Sweet Love' to the evoking 'Caught Up In The Rapture' this timeless album has a legacy of lasting tracks. The magnificent 'Mystery' sounds before it's time and the delightful 'No One Else In The World' is devotion at it's deepest. From 'Been So Long' to 'You Bring Me Joy', Anita's strong but subtle voice shines with golden soul. An album full of heart whose beats have influenced generations gone and generations to come. We've all been caught up in Baker's sweet rapture. It's all the 'Same Ole Love'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 18 August 2011
This week shuffle's through the majestic, classic Motown era. 'Side A' features the best solo artists work while 'B' listens to what the groups had to say.
MARVIN GAYE-WHAT'S GOIN ON: The master at his most magnificent, that's what's going on.
STEVIE WONDER-MY CHERI AMOR: This just might be the greatest love song...period. If there's anything better, he wrote it.
MICHAEL JACKSON-AINT NO SUNSHINE: Even little Mike could sing like a grown man, on one of his deepest records.
DIANA ROSS-AINT NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH: Her cover of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's hit earned her her first gold record and number one pop single as a solo artist. truly supreme.
JIMMY RUFFIN-WHAT BECOMES OF THE BROKEN HEARTED: Big, classic and truly epic.
THE COMMODORES-NIGHTSHIFT: A beautiful, moving tribute to some icons. This is possibly the best work of Lionel Richie's collective and he doesn't even take the lead on this one.
THE FOUR TOPS-REACH OUT I'LL BE THERE: One of the acts and Motown's finest moments. Formidable.
THE TEMPTATIONS-GET READY: The ultimate party starter.
SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES-WHAT'S SO GOOD ABOUT GOODBYE?: When it's this classic...everything.
THE JACKSON 5-I WANT YOU BACK: Need we say anymore. We miss you Michael. Rest peacefully. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 14 August 2011
Before Kanye West was making albums with Jay-Z, dropping his beautiful, dark and twisted fantasy's, while mining diamonds out of Rocafella and getting stronger and stronger he was a college dropout and its this classic album that's arguably his finest and most poignant work that he has produced. An album who's interludes were even inspiring, literally changing the rap game and the sound of modern music. From literally spitting 'Through The Wire' and lamenting how love 'All Falls Down' the Lauryn Hill inspired rapper strapped on his backpack and brought hip-hop's conscious to a platinum level. Nowadays he proclaims "can we get much higher" and he sure did with the highest praise of 'Jesus Walks', the relatively real and beautiful 'Family Business' and the true beautiful struggle on 'Spaceship'. He also brought Talib Kweli and the artist he helped resurrect in Common for the ultimate posse cut in 'Get Em' High', before dropping some live food for thought with the latter for Dave Chappelle. If that wasn't enough he did it for the kids ('We Don't Care'), got epic and most 'def' ('Two Words') and he gave us some great workout music and the truest tribute to 'Slow Jamz' with Twista and a scene stealing Jamie Foxx. Before breathing in and out, showing his 'School Spirit' and making the last call Kanye also collaborated with mentor Jay-Z for the massive 'Never Let Me Down'. A song that remained a precursor of more this to come and still the best song the two greatest rappers alive have made. Truly classic. The kid that took everyone else to school graduated. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
The playlist of our favourite songs this week. 'Side A' features some latest cuts, while the classics make the 'B Side'.
KANYE WEST & JAY-Z- OTIS: The latest single from the two collaborative hip-hop heads watching the throne that 'features' Otis Redding. This is big, shining, automobile fun, just like the video.
COMMON Feat NAS-GHETTO DREAMS: Our 'Song For The Moment' from July will still shine even after the Summer's gone.
BAD MEETS EVIL-TAKE FROM ME: Another collaborative classic where Eminem and Royce Da 5' 9" (especially Royce, what a great verse) use up all they have on selfish freeloaders.
MAROON 5 Feat CHRISTINA AGUILERA-MOVES LIKE JAGGER: The guilty pleasure of the year, this homage to a Rolling Stone sure is corny, but it sure is good too.
BEN HARPER-DO IT FOR YOU, DO IT FOR ME: An album track off his latest, Ben really is giving it 'till it's gone with tracks for days.
JAY-Z Feat EMPIRE OF THE SUN-WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT: Currently pushing the envelope and platinum with Kanye Jay's last 'Blueprint' had creative control too.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN-WE ARE THE PEOPLE: 'E.O.T.S.' really are one of the most innovative acts around with this classic rally-cry for the people that almost sounds tailor-made for Obama.
KANYE WEST-LOST IN THE WORLD: We love Bon Iver and so does Kanye West using Justin Vernon on his and Jay-Z's 'Watch The Throne' and sampling him on this classic from his monster latest album. The song also segways into some perfect, poignant prose by legendary, late poet Gil-Scott Heron. Rest In Peace.
ALICIA KEYS-A WOMAN'S WORTH: One of the leading reasons this ladies decadent debut album was worth reissuing 10 years later.
R.E.M.-CUYAHOGA: What's a cuyahoga? I tell you what, it's a great song. 25 years after 'Lifes Rich Pageant' this song shows why this classic album was worth the reissue. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 12 August 2011
'Just By Chance' are one band you really have to come across. Don't take any chances on missing out on the sweet, serene sound of an amazing acoustic duo for the ages. Boyfriend and girlfriend Andy Jones and Liz Owen have come together for a perfect partnership in sound. These two folks are some great musicians. Musicians that both pays respect to past performers all whilst paving their own path. The pairs 'Four Steps Forward EP' really looks to take them even further, from the beautiful, professional literal artwork, to the creative control of the four, formidable tracks.
It all begins with the single-worthy 'Believe Me', that reaffirms the belief in a pair who have cemented their serious status through an extensive, exhaustive list of live shows. 'Learn To Crawl' is an upbeat feeling number that shows these two rising talents aren't taking baby steps, while the terrific 'Tattoo's' inks their reputation which is getting bigger by the gig and now this record. The EP concludes with the live favourite 'Let Them Be' which shows just how good this group can really be. With note perfect vocal harmonies, sweet string work and charming chemistry this creative match wasn't left up to chance. It was meant to be. It's clear these two will be together for a long time. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 8 August 2011
Jay and 'Ye keep their throne well looked after.
Collaboration albums, sometimes they are a curse, especially in hip-hop. Jay-Z knows this all too well from his R. Kelly, 'Best Of Both Of World' efforts. Still this hasn't stopped Jay from gifting us with another collabo album (besides his 'Collision Course' with Linkin Park really crashed creative music boundaries), as he picks a better partner and like-minded, safer choice in producer, labelmate, best friend and fellow best rapper Kanye West. Over the last year the genre has been blessed with much better collaboration albums from Jay's one-time, 'Unplugged' backing band The Roots soul sessions with John Legend ('Wake Up!'), to Jay's foe become friend Nas and Damian Marley's 'Distant Relatives' and Eminem and Royce Da 5' 9"'s long-awaited, reconciliation sequel to 'Bad Meets Evil'. Now though the world's best rappers alive look to 'Watch The Throne' with their highly-anticipated release (and with Lil' Wayne and Drake about to team up for more of the same, the inspiration is set).
This Jay-Z collabo lives up to the hype and is worth the long-wait. Just like it's cover it's a gold standard LP, that should add another platinum plaque to Mr. Carter and Mr. West's catalogue and the Rocafella records offices. Following classic record together (West's 'Never Let Me Down', and Jay's 'Run This Town') the pair have worked together so much recently, from Kanye's latest classic album ('My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy') to his 'G.O.O.D Friday' free music giveaways last Christmas. Following their first meaty single 'H.A.M.' (this big song thankfully makes the deluxe edition of the album), which received a lukewarm, vegetarian response earlier this year, the pair have cut a quality control disc of a dozen desirable tracks which may just help you fall in love with hip-hop again and big-hyped records.
Even though 'Ye handles most of the production and Jay offers some of the best lines, the great thing about this album is that both stars shine together, they don't outdo each other, they just fit (take note R. Kelly). Sure this doesn't offer us a great lyrical, back and forth battle ('like the 'Bad Meets Evil' E.P.), but it does make for some incredible, futuristic sounding music, as these two experiment and pass the lyrical baton back and forth.
This E.P. come L.P. is full of hits. From the praising opening of 'No Church in the Wild' (featuring Frank Ocean) to the Mr. Hudson, heartfelt 'Why I Love You'. It's the 'Try A Little Tenderness', Otis Redding sampling single 'Otis' that reminds us just how good these two are at sampling and crafting great hip-hop music with a twist. Taking it back to 'The Blueprint' days where these two first worked together Jay exclaims "sounds so soulful, don't you agree".
We sure do and the uplifting, out of this world 'Lift Off' featuring Jay-Z's 'b', Beyoncé is another huge song, single worthy of being a hit. The two get real experimental with a cool formula on the ill-advised titled 'N%$£&! in Paris' (it was recorded in a French hotel room by the smash cultivator Hit-Boy and West), with Will Ferrell 'Blades Of Glory' soundbites, Jay boasting "ball so hard mother$£%&@~# wanna find me" and Kanye warning "Don't let me get in my zone" this is just crazy. Then on The Neptunes helmed 'Gotta Have It', Jay and Kanye further prove why their the best rappers on the planet with more classic rhymes as Pharrell tells us "I got what you need". He's talking about the perfect track for these two, which proves you must have the album.
The Nina Simone sampling 'New Day' produced by legendary Wu swordsmen The RZA is one of the albums deepest cuts, refreshing on a record that's mostly full of bold bravado and boasting. The Q-Tip produced 'That’s My B#@$£' should afford the pair respect from classic hip-hop heads despite the disrespectful title, while 'Welcome to the Jungle' is a forest full of rap barbs rained on wax. As the pair drop 'Who Gon Stop Me' the answer is nobody as Kanye and Jay-Z keep the rhymes and the record rolling with more beat and rhyme shifting dynamics. On 'Murder to Excellence' the pair make a killing of high-standard rap, but they save the best for second to last. Young, incredible, up and coming singer Frank Ocean (of hip-hop collective OFWGKTA) joins the pair again for a national and race pride chorus on the inspirational 'Made In America'. West and Jay do their thing, but it's clear (being made welcome twice on a guest-feature sparse album) that this kid on the hook is going to be a star.
On the deluxe disc of this great album there's more at stake than the promo single 'H.A.M'. There's also the sick 'Illest M*&$£~#£$~" Alive' and the top billing 'Primetime', but one of this Cd's best is the Curtis Mayfield sampled/assisted (whichever way you want to call it) track 'The Joy'. A great homage to old time records and a former 'G.O.O.D. Friday' release. As the late Mayfield harmonises the finer things in life "A little sugar, honey suckle lamb/Great expression of happiness/Boy, you could not miss with a dozen roses/Such would astound you/The joy of children laughing around you/These are the makings of you", West takes the direction of lamenting a life he could of had rapping "another shorty that won't make it to the family will/If I don't make it, can't take it, hope the family will/they aint crazy they don't know how insanity feel/Don C just had a shorty so it's not that bad/but I still hear the ghosts of the kids I never had". Jay-Z also takes it back with nice nostalgic lines like "This is my momma s*&%/I used to hear this through the walls in the hood when I was back in my pyjama s$£%", while Kid Cudi's ad-libs and Pete Rock's perfect production really help make this a classic.
Jay-Z makes the best out of steering the rhymes but Kanye's production makes this creative control his vehicle. Continuing the avant-garde sound of Kanye's last classic album, and the reign of Jay-Z's incredible lyrics these two really shine together, for a complete, cohesive set. The spotlight is on these two hip-hop heavy-weight artists and with a magnificent, hard-worked, musical album that almost feels hip-hop cinematic the pair don't fail to shine. It may be a few beats and breaks away from being a classic (or maybe just a few listens) but it's clear that this album will be an incredible addition to the catalogue, collaborative collection and legend of both rappers and their legacy together. The throne is safe. Watch out. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
This week see's the release of Jay-Z and his labelmate/protegee release their long awaited, highly, hotly anticipated collaborative album 'Watch The Throne'. So as the two best rappers today get it together lets look back at at time Jay-Z joined forces with another power player in the urban music world back in 2002. Jay joined up with R&B's best R. Kelly for the hyped album 'The Best of Both Worlds'. Now although the album didn't live up to expectations and their sequel and 'Unfinished Business' resulted in more problems, this was still a decent disc. The title track 'The Best of Both Worlds' was just huge and epic and ranks amongst the biggest things either megastar has done (you can tell because of how well it was received at Jay-Z's mecca, Madison Square Garden gig back in '03) and 'Take You Home With Me a.k.a. Body' is another great Rap/R&B smash that most artists wish they would have in their catalogues. Still maybe it's due to both sides extensive sets that this album paled in comparison, or maybe the chemistry just wasn't as set as it was before (see Jay's 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent' or R. Kelly's 'Fiesta (Remix)'). Still, however the album does have some real nice plays, from the two coming together on 'Break Up To Make Up', to the groundwork of 'The Streets'. 'Shorty', 'It Aint Personal', 'Get This Money' and the Bee Gee's sampling 'Honey' where also some sweets jams but overall this album disappointed many. It was good, it just wasn't as great as everyone expected. Still Jay can make that all right this week as him and his little brother Kanye West look to show how well they relate by giving us the real best of both worlds. TIM DAVID HARVEY
With Kanye West and Jay-Z about to 'Watch The Throne' with their collabo album due this week, this weeks 'Tape Deck Shuffle' is a special dedicated to them. Side A features Jay, while on the B side you got 'Ye.
IZZO (H.O.V.A): This sizzling Summer jam Michael Jackson smash started this hit making partnership.
THE BOUNCE Feat KANYE WEST: One of West's first apperancs on mic and a Jay-Z record, albeit an uncredited one. Off 'The Gift' side of 'The Blueprint 2'.
ENCORE: Coming out of retirement Jay and 'Ye had to do it again as we all wanted more of the Jigga man.
ROC BOYS (AND THE WINNER IS...): This 'American Gangster' celebrated and popped bottles with Nas, Diddy and his Rocafella family with Kanye "in the haooouse".
RUN THIS TOWN Feat KANYE WEST & RHIANNA: President Carter and his two 'deffest' finds show they run music on this jam.
SIDE B-KANYE WEST
NEVER LET ME DOWN Feat JAY-Z: As soon as Jay shouts "Oh Baby" to start this track we knew this song was going to be epic.
DIAMONDS FROM SIERRA LEONE (REMIX) Feat JAY-Z: "What's wrong with you and Jay man are y'all man"? "Yep! I got it from here 'Ye damn!" Need we say anymore.
BIG BROTHER: Mr. West's ode to Mr. Carter keeps the family ties binded. This writer was lucky enough to see Kanye perform this live in 2007. Then as the song finished to a ploom of smoke as everything cleared Kanye remained stood arms folded with his brother Jay next to him in the same b-boy stance. CLASSIC!
SO APPALLED Feat JAY-Z, PRINCE CY HI, PUSHA T, SWIZZ BEATZ & THE RZA: Now this is one hell of a posse cut. One of the free 'G.O.O.D. Friday' tracks that made Kanye's last album and one of many Jay and West's many collaborations last year. Possibly a precursor and inspiration to this forthcoming album.
POWER (REMIX): Another example of how great these pair are together, especially on a remix. Giving extra Snap (literally) to one of Chi-town's finest greatest hits. This pair really do have the power. You charged for what they've got in store and on shelves this week? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
For August our 'Song For The Moment' is actually a special triple-header in celebration of Canadian rapper and Young Money/Lil' Wayne investment Drake. It seems this top M.C. hasn't cooled off from the hot-streak that was ignited by mixtapes like 'So Far Gone'. Following his certified, classic debut 'Thank Me Later' Drake hasn't rested on his success. From welcome guest spots (like Y.M. partner Nicki Minaji's 'Moment 4 Life') to finding more mixtape gems (the TLC sampling 'I Get Lonely Too') Drizzy Drake has kept the records rolling. This Summer though has seen the Toronto rapper/singer/actor mark his territory with some sublime singles en route to the release of this years sophomore set 'Take Care'. The man's latest smooth, mellow yellow, laid-back but deep, introspective rap/R&B work is so good, we had to honor him thrice for honing his own unique style and sound. First came the night out analysing 'Marvin's Room' where Drake tells a women on the phone "F#@$ that £"$%&* that you love so bad, I know you still think about the times we had" and makes it all sound so good. Then there's the tense 'Trust Issues' whose chorus' and bridge where so good they where re-used and reinvented for the Rick Ross and Lil' Wayne assisted DJ Khaled track 'I'm On One'. Finally the fresh and popular 'Dreams Money Can Buy' is affording even more realities for this top-draw talent. With more to come, whatevers next? One things for sure Drake keeps giving you all he's got. Time to show appreciation. Your welcome. TIM DAVID HARVEY.